Raised Hands

Vermont’s Early Learning Challenge – Race to the Top grant (ELC) is a $36.9 million, federally funded, four-year grant to help build a high-quality and accessible early childhood system in the state so that all young children will be ready to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Getting kids ready for school means more than helping with their ABCs, packing their lunches, filling their backpacks, and getting them to the bus on time. About 80% of a child’s critical brain development happens before age three (and 90% by age five) and the brain connections made during this time are critical for a child to succeed in school, relationships, and the workforce. The Early Learning Challenge grant supports early learning and the healthy physical, social, and emotional development of children to lay the foundation for future success. For more information, visit the Fast Facts page.

Vermonters agree that every child deserves a strong start and an equal chance in life. But not all of Vermont’s children are thriving. Some children live in households that are not stable or safe, some experience early trauma, some are challenged by developmental delays or disabilities, and many – 19% of children under age 6 – live in poverty. When children grow up in chronic stressful conditions such as these – what scientists now call “toxic stress” – the structure of the developing brain can be disrupted, negatively affecting their physical, emotional, and behavioral health. The Early Challenge grant supports quality early experiences to counteract the effects of “toxic stress” so that all children are able to thrive and grow up to contribute to a vibrant economic future for our state. For the latest updates on grant progress visit the News & Updates page.

The Early Learning Challenge grant works to:

  • Improve quality and access of early learning and development opportunities
  • Invest in a highly skilled workforce through professional development
  • Empower communities to support young children and families
  • Strengthen our capacity to ensure we are making a difference

For more information on specific initiatives of the grant, visit the Projects page.

Vermont’s Early Learning Challenge grant initiative was created by a collaborative group of early childhood stakeholders, using Vermont’s Early Childhood Framework and Action Plan as a critical foundation. Grant implementation is led by five participating organizations: The Governor’s Office, Agency of Education, Agency of Human Services, particularly Department of Health and Department for Children and Families, and Building Bright Futures, in coordination with the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the Turrell Fund. This team works closely with a broad range of community partners and early childhood stakeholders, including the Building Bright Futures Statewide Advisory council, on transparent and responsive implementation of the grant.

To contact the grant Implementation Team visit our Contact Us page.